This year, Australia made a step in the right direction, with the first-ever National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.
I work with young girls and their parents, and I am often asked about how to stop bullying. The recent tragedy of teenage girl Daani Sanders taking her own life and the media reports that bullying on Facebook may have played a role, heightened concerns that the on-line world, in particular, has become the new dark playground for "Mean Girls."
Ensuring our children can learn free from taunts, blows and soul-destroying rumors will take a whole-community approach.
What schools can do:
We all need a whole-school culture that makes it clear bullying will not be tolerated. Steps that I have seen work in schools include:
• Strong peer-support programs, where older children buddy up with younger ones and look out for them;
• A zero-tolerance approach to any bullying incident;
• Celebrations of difference, such as school multicultural days, gender awareness programs, anti-homophobia initiatives; and
• Getting the local police youth liaison officer in to discuss the topic with students, which the police are more than happy to do.
Bystanders, take a stand:
I think this year, the National Day of Action organisers got it right, when they chose to focus on encouraging bystanders to do more to stop bullying.
Let's consider the video that did the rounds earlier in the year on YouTube of a NSW teen boy throwing another boy to the ground in retaliation for bullying. The teen had been subjected to bullying for years and tried to turn the other cheek-until on this day, in his own words, he "snapped."
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